Technology is helping small business owners add more and more job titles to their resumes. From accounting to Web design, entrepreneurs are collecting skills and cutting costs by managing numerous aspects of their own operations. And it’s no surprise. The entrepreneurial motto is, after all, “I can do that.”
Not only are small business owners becoming increasingly tech-savvy, but they are beginning to grasp the importance and benefits of media relations. Not so long ago, these same businesses were still considering the necessity of a Web site. The question facing them now is: Do we need to hire a PR agency?
Unfortunately, though many small businesses would like to retain a PR firm, the cost of doing so just doesn’t fit the budget. Following a path forged by word processing, business management, graphic and tax software, online press kit sites are giving small business owners the tools they need to handle their own media relations at a fraction of the cost.
Online press kits, sometimes referred to as “media rooms,” should not be confused with regular Web sites. They each serve a distinct purpose.
Whereas a Web site provides information to the public and consumers about products and services, an online press kit provides information to the media about the business/service/organization and its background.
A key component of an online press kit is its media library. This technology is what’s helping make online press kits a popular alternative to hard copy press folders, even among seasoned publicists. A media library lives online and stores press kit materials, such as press releases, digital files, video and audio files. It can be accessed from any computer with a connection to the Internet and its contents downloaded directly to the user’s hard drive.
This is a welcome improvement to the former practice of attaching large files to e-mails (that normally are rejected by anti-spam and anti-virus programs, anyway).
Small businesses that wish to attract the media’s attention must go where the media is looking: the Internet. Recent surveys indicate that journalists overwhelmingly prefer online press kits over hard copy press kits. These surveys also show that most journalists research their stories primarily online. Publicists understand this and get the lion’s share of credit for making online press kits such a well-received technology. But, this doesn’t mean that do-it-yourselfers can’t get on board, too.
Entrepreneurs who are new to the concept of media relations may feel even more daunted by the notion of managing it themselves. The truth is, depending on how aggressively a small business wishes to seek out media coverage, handling its own PR just takes an online press kit and a little insight on how to present it. Here are some do’s and don’ts:
Online press kits should:
Be easy to locate if linked to a main Web site. This link must appear prominently – either in the site’s menu or on the home page. Reporters don’t have time to search for it. Also, if the press kit site is linked to a “main” site, it should share the main site’s “look and feel,” so that reporters don’t feel like they’ve been forwarded to someplace unrelated.
Provide materials commonly used by the media. A general press kit usually contains a backgrounder, FAQ, and profiles of key individuals/spokespeople. This is what a reporter will want to see when he or she visits your online press kit. Provide high-resolution, digital photos, high-resolution, digital logo graphics, and of course, press releases.